Huckabee team defends 'madrassas' comment
March 3rd, 2011
04:16 PM ET
4 years ago

Huckabee team defends 'madrassas' comment

(CNN)–Mike Huckabee's political committee is defending comments the former Arkansas governor made Wednesday that referred to President Barack Obama as growing up around Muslim madrassas.

"People who read the Governor's full comments about the President in his new book will completely understand – but those who don't, probably won't hear the whole story," Hogan Gidley, Executive Director of HuckPAC, said today in a statement to CNN.

Gidley did not respond directly to the question of why Huckabee used the highly-charged term "madrassas". The term 'madrassa' traditionally refers to any Muslim school, but following the terrorism of September 11th news stories about madrassas radicalizing Islamic students cast the word in a negative light.

Wednesday, Huckabee told talk radio host Bryan Fischer: "I have said many times, publicly, that I do think he has a different world view, and I think it's in part molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to boy scout meetings, and you know, our communities were filled with rotary clubs, not madrassas."

Earlier in the week, Huckabee mistakenly said that Obama had grown up in Kenya. He told Fischer on his radio show that he had said Kenya when he meant Indonesia.

This isn't the first time that Obama has been connected to madrassas. In the early stages of Obama's presidential campaign in 2007, Insight Magazine cited an unnamed source that claimed "researchers connected to Senator Clinton" had found information that Obama was trained at a madrassa. Clinton's campaign denied the magazine's claims.

CNN later confirmed that the information was inaccurate, but the article was cited several times on Fox News and on Glenn Beck's television show, which then aired on CNN's sister network HLN.

At the time, a spokesman for Obama's campaign said airing the inaccurate madrassa claim was "appallingly irresponsible."

In 2007, CNN Senior International Correspondent John Vause visited the school Obama did attend in Jakarta. He described the Basuki school, where Obama went from 1969 to 1971, as "nothing like" a madrassa that espouses militant ideals.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa...like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

He also reported seeing teachers dressed in western-style clothing and children wearing school uniforms.


Filed under: Mike Huckabee • President Obama
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. SometimesElla

    AH! The ol' "For just $26.95 you TOO can understand the inside joke..." trick. Huckabee. He's one crafty christian.

    March 3, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Darth Vadik, CA

    So he is still digging, just keep at it Huck, maybe you'll reach China soon...

    March 3, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. jules sand-perkins

    "Appalling irresponsible?"
    If a spokesman for Obama's campaign described a claim that way, the spokesman needs to go back to some kind of school himself.

    March 3, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "People who read the Governor's full comments about the President in his new book will completely understand – but those who don't, probably won't hear the whole story," Hogan Gidley, Executive Director of HuckPAC, said today in a statement to CNN.

    "Buy my book" is really the response?

    March 3, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. once upon a horse

    note to Rev Huckabee......if you go around and say correct and honest things about a person you don't have to go back explaining and defending what you said.

    March 3, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. geecee

    This so-called minister should be totally ashamed of himself, trying to appeal to his hateful, angry base. As if they need more lies and distortions to hate our President. Shame on you, Huckabee. And you call yourself a Man of God? Hardly, you are a divisive, fearmonger who will not get your Party's nomination for President because they know you can't win – against President Obama. You can't try to lie about him all you want, but he explains himself completely i teh two books he wrote BEFORE

    March 3, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    Lies have consequences, but the interesting thing will be when Huckleberry here drops out of the first place, who will take it this time, because as we all know Mitt is a perpetual second place kind of a guy....

    March 3, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Video Guy

    Can we start calling Pastor Huck what he really is?

    March 3, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. geecee

    Let me finish here: in the two books he wrote BEFORE he even became President. He wasn't even a candidate when he wrote those books. So, stop the lying and hatemongering, okay?

    March 3, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  10. Mikey

    Aparently, Huckabee is trying to woo the most intolerant among us. I suspect this is a planned strategy. Huckabee has not taken a leave of abscence from Fox. That means he is probably not running for President. So he can keep spreading misinformation intended to paint OUR PRESIDENT as somehow less American than others. Of course, those comments will not be tied to the actual GOP candidate, even if the attacks are part of a coordinated smeer campaign designed to harm the President. It is hard to believe anyone would believe this crap, but a recent poll showed that 51% of likely Republican primary voters believe that our President definately or probably was not born in the U.S. That says nothing about President Obama, but is very telling regarding the average GOP voter. If the party could feel shame, it would – but it appears it can't.

    March 3, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Chandler02

    Huckabee is really disgracing himself this week. First comments about Obama living in Kenya and now this! It looks like this is how he is going to approach the 2012 campaign, and it isn't good. And to think I had a bit of respect for him after he acknowledged the facts about obesity in America and spoke out on behalf of Michelle Obama. Very sad he has decided to go this route.

    March 3, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. windrider2

    Obama spent a total of 5 years in Indonesia. He grew up mostly in America. He did not attend a madrassa; that was firmly and unequivocally disproven years ago. He did not grow up in Kenya either. Huckabee is either playing the birthers and his FOX audience members who believe every Obama conspiracy rumor that comes along, or he really is just a dumb hick.

    March 3, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. Inmyopinion

    What was the school like in the 1960's? Indonesia in the 1960's was not like it is today and people in the 60's in Indonesia did not wear western clothing. CNN visited the school in 2007, huge difference. CNN, please don't try to make fool of us. Does CNN really think that numerous of American people have not traveled, lived in Indonesia back in the 1960's,70's, 80's etc...to know better than what you are reporting is incorrect?

    March 3, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. PalmReader

    "People who read the Governor's full comments about the President in his new book will completely understand – but those who don't, probably won't hear the whole story,"

    Sorry, Huckster, but I'm not one to waste my hard earned dollars buying a book authored by a decieving, lying ex-pastor with nothing better to do in his life but stir up controversy to sell books, bask in the media spotlight, and get rich.

    March 3, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Cincinnatian

    Exactly why Huckabee is not presidential material. ...Next!

    March 3, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. thetruth

    Huckabee is out of line and playing to his base, even if he's not running for president. His explanation is a weak lie, that he mis -spoke? If he truly mis-spoke, then he wouldn't have created the false story of Obama listening to his father and grandfather for years "grew up listening..." supporting his false claim that they filled his head with ideology that is anti-British and by extension as he later extolled anti–Western..anti American...and even anti Jewish,,, as Steve marlsberg has said. Facts are; that he never even knew his father until later on in life, most likely didn't go to a madrassa. His rearing experience might have been different, but that doesn't make it anti American. It's this lazy narrative, and false connecting of the dots that lead us to invade Iraq...and what goes on at FOX news all the time. Just tell the truth

    March 3, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. TruthMatters

    Way to go, Mr. Huckabee, way to go. With each passing day I find out what a man of class you are. I was brought up with the value that a truth told with ill intent is just as bad as a lie. Now you've leapfrogged that by making statements every day that are both false and said with ill intent. Our country really needs a man of your caliber and standing as its president. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

    March 3, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. jaywingfuller

    My god, Huckaboy! Are you and your election committee drinking the Charlie Sheen cool aid? You and your followers are starting to make Sister Sarah and her crazed sheep look like a bunch of Rhodes scholars. Instead of continuing to blather utter nonsense and straight out lies that can easily be shown to be lies, why don't you do the Christian thing and admit you've been wrong and apologize? I mean, really, you and your committee look like rank political greenhorns - totally out of touch with reality and so desparate to cater to the far right wing of the GOP that you come off as bald-faced racists - which I'm really beginning to believe you are.

    March 3, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. XWngLady

    WTF (I usually don't resort to profanity, but in this case...) "Most of us grew up going to boy scout meetings, and you know, our communities were filled with rotary clubs, not madrassas."....Most of "us" who Huck? Because many people that I know and grew up with weren't priveleged or affluent enough to be in rotary clubs or scouts....Furthermore, Pres. Obama did NOT grow up in Kenya or attend a "madrassa"...So I guess that we should berate all of our foreign service officers and church Missionaries and their children who grow up in other countries. That's wrong with so many Americans who have NEVER been outside of their rural town, suburb, state or country. You can't have an accurate or well-balanced WORLDview, if you know nothing about the world!

    March 3, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. mortalc01l

    More utter garbage and outright lies from the Republican side of the aisle. How convenient to be able to lie repeatedly to appease your voting base, then retract that lie as a "mis-statement"... OOOPS!!! Did I say President Obama grew up in Kenya.. silly me... I MEANT Indonesia.. they're pretty much the same, right? Yeah.. President Obama was schooled and trained at a madrassa (Republican code for terrorist school)... Oh, sorry, my mistake... he WASN'T trained and schooled at a madrassa??? Oh well.. at least my Republican base got my message....

    Lying, conniving, scumbag that he is.

    March 3, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Tulsa

    Liars. The Republican Party and their propadanda wing, Fox "news" have nothing to run on so once again, they roll out the old "Fear and Smear".
    The bulls$&t the Koch brother's puppets are spewing is beginning to register with the masses of Americans. The truth is the majority of Americans do not want the Republicans back in power. They, (we) see the right for what it is. HATE and FEAR.
    I'm not buying it for a minute.

    March 3, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. shannon

    Huckabee pretends to be a Christian religious leader and yet he repeatedly lies, how does he square the obvious contradiction?

    March 3, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Indy

    I thought only the devil himself would stoop that low to sell books but there go's Huckabee. Getting hard to pick whether Palin is the worst of mankind or Huckabee

    March 3, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. What do you Expect?

    Come on, really, what do you expect from Huckabee or any of the co-opted Republicans who need the Tea Party support?

    Code words for racism all over the place. Huckabee doesn't make mistakes like that – he fully knew his audience when he chose those words.

    Just like the time he was on a TV commercial last election in front of a window which "just happened" to have a window pane frame glowing in the shape of a cross.

    Please, although most of the Tea Party people are that stupid, the general electorate isn't.

    March 3, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    Huckabee – A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

    This supposed "man of God" continues to bear false witness against thy neighbor. These are the religious zealots I can't stand. Do as I say, not as I do. Hypocrite!!!!

    March 3, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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